It is far too easy to take the mickey out of Labour when it’s engaged in doldrums triumphalism. For example, the polling of Labour members shows they thought David would be the more effective leader, more likely to lead them to victory, and far better equipped to be an effective PM. Yet they voted for Ed! Oh how we laughed….although he who laughs last may yet prove there was jiggery-pokery involved: as the Slog advised yesterday, stay tuned.
But as a stats and policy wonk, Mr Ed will already be well-acquainted with the task ahead of him. It is not dissimilar to the one that faced David Cameron four years ago.
For starters, the Fabian Society and Policy Network published the YouGov polling data last week. This confirmed that Labour is seen as close to immigrants (59%), trade unions (69%) and benefit claimants (66% close). In stark contrast to this, Ed’s progressive movement isn’t seen as very close to the middle class (35%), homeowners (31%) and people in the South ( 32% – and a score of only 23% of people of those who live in the South).
Thus The Slog was unsurprised to see Ed first thing this morning telling Andrew Marr and every passing stranger reading the Telegraph that he identifies with squeezed middle England property strugglers. He also – I can’t think why – said he was his own man, and cared not a fig for the views of the TUC. Good for you Ed – but watch out for the grassy knoll.
For Miliband minor, there is no alternative to a war on two fronts requiring a man with even more faces. This has been summed up better than anywhere else in the Populus polling of Labour party members and voters Labour lost in 2010. Swing voters against Labour said the main reasons for defeat were Gordon Brown as Prime Minister, Labour not having the right answers on things like the economy and immigration, and the party having run out of steam. But Labour loyalists thought the reasons for defeat involved voters not appreciating Labour’s achievements, the wicked baby-bayoneting right wing media, and poor communication of very right and correct and wonderful policies of a Divine nature.
As you can see, Ed Miliband is going to have to square the reality of the voters he lost with the insanity of the workers he has. But the squarial looks even less feasible when one notes that in the Populus poll, 69% of lost Labour voters thought cuts were unavoidable, 74% thought Labour must accept a large part of the blame for the economic problems that Britain faced, and 84% felt ‘Labour won’t be taken seriously on the economy until it comes up with its own plan to deal with the deficit – it can’t just oppose every spending cut’. However, those who supported Ed – and conspired to make him Harriet’s messenger on Earth – would oppose every scratch and pimple, let alone cut; and so this gives the young man an even bigger problem.
It being unlikely that EM will run on a pledge to close down the Daily Mail, replace Her Majesty with Hattie Harman, and offer free IVF to every unmarried woman in Britain, it seems probable that Miliband minor’s omni-directional visage will try to both encourage the Fluffies in their fantasies, while exploiting the few bits of good news in recent surveys.
High up in the Good News hierarchy is the finding that the Conservatives are seen as divorced from the realities of life in the North and Scotland (only 13% think they understand them) and that they regularly rub shoulders at Ascot and elsewhere with the disgustingly rich (83% of respondents saw them as close to the very well-off). Equally, over three quarters (77%) of lost Labour voters thought that people on higher incomes should have to pay more tax to reduce spending cuts.
So Ed’s task – and he has no option beyond accepting it – is to ensure that his next keynote speech contains this key passage:
“Look, let’s be clear about this: I am not and never have been Gordon Brown, who of course was to blame for everything and I never liked him anyway. What I do have is a few worries about immigrants, a head of steam with which to fight mill-owning Tory infidels, and access to Ed Balls’ gigantic brain with which to maul pipsqueak Old Etonian drapers. The policies used as weapons in this Holy Jehad will have been received by me direct from the hand of Mrs God, and will in turn be spread far and wide by the North English & Caledonian Society for the Propagation of the Labour Gospel (Old Testament revised version, 2010).
Unlike Lord Mandelson, I feel profoundly uncomfortable with the idle rich, and tend to come out in protesting hives whenever accidentally exposed to them. Thus will my trusty fag Mr Balls ensure that their riches are decimated by taxation in very short order. However, I find Trade Union officials to be well-intentioned and generous donors, although much maligned by the popular press which, at times, sails perilously close to the wind of change.
Above all, I accept the necessity for cuts, and pledge here and now to cut the hours worked by every teacher, nurse, civil servant, woman, black person, immigration official and export manager”.
Let’s face it, you can’t say fairer than that.